Monday, July 10, 2006

Comforting messages to oneself...

“I’m a recovering perfectionist who is often afraid to ‘choose the wrong thing,’ so I don’t choose anything, thinking that will keep me safe. Safe from what?” -- Susan Kennedy.

I think one of the things that characterizes anxiously attached people is that they tend to be relatively unskilled in producing comforting messages for themselves. This is a real dream killer! Picking up on these subtle subterranean thoughts is part of what healing and creativity are about.

It may surprise you to learn that even though the Bible is abundantly clear about boundaries, we often are not and allow negative thoughts to seep through the proverbial filter. Ever wonder why those boundaries seem so fuzzy… something so elusive like the very air we breathe? It’s no accident that we have this myopic outlook that clouds our dreams. Rhonda Britten explains boundaries in concrete terms that not only illuminate the way but helps us to reexamine how the past interferes in the present.

“In a healthy, loving household, children learn boundaries naturally. Through interactions with their parents and family, they internalize the self-esteem that enables them to say no, walk away from dangerous or damaging situations, express themselves assertively, keep secrets without guilt, and stand up for themselves even if they have to stand alone. When all those pieces of self-esteem are present, it is clear when a boundary needs to be put in place with a mate, friend, or stranger.

In reality, many of us did not grow up with all those pieces intact. Setting boundaries doesn’t come so naturally to us, as I found out the hard way… These days, when I am teaching my clients about fearless loving, I offer them my definition of healthy boundaries for couples. I explain that boundaries can encompass your physical space, your personal space, your body and the way you communicate with each other. The intention in fearless loving is to honor your boundaries without dishonoring your partner’s. Never make your needs more important than the other person’s, yet recognize when your needs are mandatory in order to continue feeling safe and respected in the relationship. Boundaries are not building barricades to love or putting someone through the twelve Labors of Hercules to prove they care. Boundaries are about honoring the soul in front of you.”

The best definition I have ever heard on boundaries comes from Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend. Establishing boundaries has to do with being receptive to all the good, while keeping all that is harmful from entering the heart, thus leaving us desolate, confused and denying our authentic essential self. Maybe that is why Jesus used such a powerful metaphor such as He did. "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” Who else is able to watch what goes in better than He? He would not allow anyone to come through the door that did not have a rightful claim to the sheep who were kept there. Anyone else would not be allowed in. Those who would dare to climb over the walls to get to the sheep were classified by Jesus as thieves. So too we need to watch those that seek to sneak over the boundaries inside our heart.

“A boundary is set to avoid violation of personal freedoms.”

© TR 2006

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